Monthly Archives: January 2008

Beckley Driver Huffs Intoxicant, Hurts Five-month Old Child

From today’s Register-Herald:

Baby, mother injured after car crash; driver charged with DUI, police say

Amelia A. Pridemore
Register-Herald Reporter

A Daniels woman allegedly under the influence of an inhalant crashed a car through a yard and two fences, went over and up two embankments and struck a building, injuring another woman and a five-month-old girl, Beckley police said.

Angel L. Stoots, 25, of Danmont Vista, was charged with DUI with injury, DUI with child endangerment, driving without a license and having no insurance, Cpl. Will Reynolds said. She was being held Saturday at Southern Regional Jail on $5,000 bond.

Stoots was in the driver’s seat of a 1998 Chevrolet Monte Carlo parked behind the Pagoda Motel on Harper Road Friday evening, Reynolds said.

An adult female passenger was in the front seat and the passenger’s 5-month-old daughter was in a child safety seat in the back.

Stoots was reportedly inhaling an unidentified “intoxicating substance,” Reynolds said. She claimed she passed out while the car was in gear and stepped on the gas pedal.

The Monte Carlo went across North Pike Street and into a resident’s back yard in the 1000 block of West Neville Street, Reynolds said. The car then tore down two fences and went over a six-foot embankment. After going through a resident’s parking spot and through grass, the car went up a three-foot embankment and struck a brick building in the same block of West Neville.

The passenger and her daughter were taken to Raleigh General Hospital, Reynolds said. The baby had a knot on her head and the passenger complained of head and back pain. Stoots was not hurt.

The passenger told police she was not involved in Stoots’ activities and that she tried to get herself and her child out of the car, Reynolds said.

Note: This woman is liable for any and all property damage that she caused, as well as for any injuries suffered by the other occupants of the vehicle, including the five-month old child. Furthermore, liability is pretty much a non-issue since the criminal charges alone will basically prove that. Hopefully, the woman had adequate insurance. Many times however, the same type of lowlife mentality that would lead a person to huff an intoxicant while driving a car in which an innocent five-month old baby is a passenger is the same mentality that would lead a person to decide to drive without vehicle liability insurance. – John H. Bryan, West Virginia car accident attorney.


Truckers in WV Don’t Think Twice About Driving on Icy Roads

From today’s Register-Herald:

Snowy roads cause traffic mess, road closures

By Amelia A. Pridemore
Register-Herald reporter

Old Man Winter refused to loosen his icy grip on southern West Virginia, slamming the region with a late afternoon snow Thursday that blanketed roadways and wreaked havoc on motorists.

Snow showers with areas of blowing snow struck the region early Thursday evening, and temperatures were dropping to the single digits, according to data from the National Weather Service. Wind gusts of around 20 mph caused wind chills to dip below zero.

Emergency responders throughout the region reported chaotic evening commutes.

In Raleigh County, Tams Highway (W.Va. 16) was shut down because a tractor-trailer was stuck on a mountain, blocking both traffic lanes. Airport Road in Beaver was shut down earlier in the evening, but it was reopened by 8 p.m.

Between 4 and 8 p.m., Raleigh County authorities handled nine vehicle accidents, the EOC said. Some resulted in injuries, but no wrecks appeared to be especially large.

State Division of Highways crews were out and treating the roadways, the EOC said. As of 8 p.m., roads throughout Raleigh County were slippery.

Fayette County’s roads were “nasty,” according to a dispatcher.

“When I came in (to work), it was nasty and it’s still nasty,” she said. “(U.S.) 19 is horrible.”

Several wrecks were reported throughout Fayette County early Thursday evening, but they were all minor, the EOC said.

Nicholas County dispatchers estimated three inches of snow had fallen in Summersville, and even more had likely fallen in higher elevations at Nettie and Richwood. However, few wrecks had been reported, and most only involved cars in ditches.

Summers County emergency personnel said only one minor wreck on Interstate 64 had been reported. While snow was not piled high, road conditions remained treacherous.

“They’re covered right now. They’re white,” a dispatcher said.

A Wyoming County dispatcher simply urged motorists to stay home, even though only minor accidents were reported.

“It’s pretty bad, and we’re trying to tell people to stay off the roads,” he said.

Greenbrier and Monroe counties reported very few accidents, although some roads remained slippery.

Schools in Fayette, Nicholas, Raleigh, Summers and Wyoming counties had already announced delays as of late Thursday evening.

Note: For some odd reason, most of us are concerned about driving in icy conditions, but not truckers. Many of them, especially in West Virginia, don’t even think twice about taking to icy and snowy roads – at least not until they are stuck somewhere or have already caused or been involved in a wreck. Because of the selfishness of the trucker driving down Tams Highway in Raliegh County, both lanes had to be closed. At least nobody was hurt this time due to a tractor trailer driver’s reckless indifference to the safety of other human beings. – John H. Bryan, West Virginia Car Accident Attorney.

Police Arrest Charles Town Driver for Fleeing Fatal Wreck

From today’s Huntington Herald-Dispatch:

Police arrest driver accused of fleeing fatal wreck

By The Associated Press

CHARLES TOWN — The driver of a pickup truck that went into the Potomac River faces charges of fleeing the scene of a fatal accident.

Kevin David Phelps of Harpers Ferry remains free on $50,000 bond following his arrest last week.

State Police say the truck ran off River Road east of Shepherdstown and landed in the river on Jan. 6. Susan Daley, 35, of Frederick, Md., was found submerged in water in the truck’s cab and is believed to have drowned.

Two other passengers escaped from the truck and were treated and released from a local hospital.

Phelps, 30, is charged with leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death and two counts of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in injury, according to Jefferson County Magistrate Court records.

There was no telephone listing for Phelps in the Harpers Ferry area. It was not known Wednesday night whether he has a lawyer.

Note: In this situation, the driver is likely going to be charged criminally with various serious charges. Also, however, he is going to be liable civilly for wrongful death of one of the passengers, as well as for personal injuries for the other passengers. Hopefully this guy has more than a $20,000 insurance limit. However, the civil actions against him are going to have to prove more than that he just left the scene of the accident. They will have to prove that he was negligent in allowing the truck to run off the road and into the river. That shouldn’t be too difficult though given the fact that the truck ended up there in the first place. It would be interesting to know how long after the wreck that he was arrested, and if it was soon after, whether any toxicology tests were done regarding possible alcohol or drug use. If there was, then there would be practically instant civil (and criminal) liability. – John H. Bryan, West Virginia Car Accident Attorney.

With Winter Weather Comes Greater Responsibility For Drivers

From today’s Charleston Daily Mail:

Dozens of wrecks, including fatality, result from rush hour snow
by Kelly L. Holleran
Daily Mail staff
There were more than 40 vehicle accidents in the Charleston area in the span of about 90 minutes this morning, including one fatal wreck, said Dale Petry, Kanawha County emergency services director.

BREAKING NEWS: Dozens of wrecks result from rush hour snow

Officers investigate a fender bender on Court Street in Charleston this morning. Many accidents were reported during rush hour. ..
The accidents began about 7:30 a.m. after it began to snow, a Metro 911 dispatcher said.
In one of the accidents, one person died in Hernshaw this morning, Petry said.

The multiple-car pile-up happened between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. on state Route 94, Petry said.

The accident probably happened because the road was already cold when it started to mist, Petry said.

The mist on the road caused black ice to form, he said.

There were no other injuries in the accident, Petry said.

Officials are not releasing the identity of the person until family members are notified, he said.

The road will be shut down for an unspecified amount of time, he said.

In another accident, a bus transporting children sideswiped a guardrail. That happened about 8:34 a.m., the dispatcher said.

The accident happened at the intersection of South Park Road and Chesterfield Avenue, the dispatcher said.

There were no injuries, she said.

Less than one inch of rain fell in the Charleston area this morning, said Fred McMullen, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Most of the precipitation in the valleys was rain, but some snow fell near Yeager Airport and the higher elevations, he said.

The rain is expected to taper off to drizzle this afternoon, he said.

Note: with the onset of winter and snowy and icy conditions, drivers have a greater responsibility for the safety of their passengers and other drivers. All-to-often, West Virginia drivers, especially tractor trailers, tend to speed up in icy conditions, as if they have a suicide wish. Well, who cares about them if they want to commit suicide; the problem is, that most other drivers on the road are completely innocent, and their lives can be taken away in an instant by some reckless and selfish jerk. The law requires that drivers adjust their driving according to the weather conditions. So, if the roads are icy and there is low visibility, the law may require you to drive far below the speed limit and maintain greater care in changing lanes. The measuring point is reasonableness. What would a “reasonable person” do in the exact same weather conditions…. – John H. Bryan, West Virginia car accident attorney.

Child “Dart-Out” Cases

From the Beckley Register-Herald today:

11-year-old struck by car sustains minor injuries

The Register-Herald
An 11-year-old boy struck by a car in Beckley Friday afternoon sustained only minor injuries and the driver will not be charged, city police said.

About 12:30 p.m., the boy, believed to be from the Oceana area, was struck by a Honda Accord on North Eisenhower Drive near Beckley Produce, Patrolman B.L. Fuller said. The boy was taken to Beckley Appalachian Regional Hospital for treatment of minor injuries, which included a broken nose.

Witnesses said the boy darted into traffic as he was crossing the street with his father, Fuller said. The female driver of the Honda was driving at a low rate of speed because of heavy traffic.

The driver, who Fuller said did nothing improper, will not be charged.

— Amelia A. Pridemore

Note: This is a common, but difficult, situation. You have a child on the side of the road who is subsequently hit by a passing car. In some situations, drivers, even if obeying the speed limit, are charged with being more cautious when there is a child on the side of the road, because children are known to “dart-out” in the road suddenly. In the above case, the child was crossing the street with his father. There are several factors that would determine liability in that case, such as: where was the father? What was the speed limit? Was it a crosswalk? Was there a crosswalk nearby? Was the driver on a cell phone? In other words, in situations such as these, whether or not there is liability may not be known at first. Oftentimes however, such as in the above case, the responding officer likes to give an initial opinion as to liability despite the fact that they really have no idea without more investigation. More importantly, the police officer should have documented the scene of the accident, with photographs, diagrams and statements from any eyewitnesses. Them, an accident reconstruction expert and the parties themselves can determine liability at a later time. – John H. Bryan, West Virginia Car Accident Attorney.

City of Beckley Sued Twice in Same Day for Injuries

From the Beckley Register-Herald this morning:

The city of Beckley was confronted with two lawsuits in the same day, with the plaintiffs in each case seeking a jury trial and no less than $300,000 in damages, according to documents filed Tuesday in the Raleigh County circuit clerk’s office.Andrea Erskine, an Oak Hill resident, is represented by Lewisburg attorney Steven Hunter. According to Erskine’s complaint, she and Randall Erskine were driving north on South Fayette Street in Beckley on May 30, 2006, when a city dump truck “heavily laden with hot asphalt” crossed the center line of the street and struck Erskine’s 2004 Toyota 4-Runner head-on.The Toyota was purportedly “shoved and crushed with great force” into an embankment. The lawsuit contends that Ernest Oliver Dillard, a city employee and driver of the truck, was cited by Beckley police for failure to maintain control. His alleged crossing of the center line was illegal, negligent and careless, Hunter argues.Due to the accident, Erskine states that she has suffered from various injuries, strains and sprains. Since the accident, Erskine maintains, she has experienced “severe headaches, neck pain, mid-back pain and dizziness,” among other health problems.She is asking for $300,000 in damages. The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge H.L. Kirkpatrick.The other suit was filed by Beckley attorney John Wooton on behalf of four plaintiffs — Jason Golden, Emily Golden, Gracie Golden and Noah Shrewsbury. Each plaintiff is requesting $100,000 in damages from the city. With the exception of Shrewsbury, a Beckley resident, the other plaintiffs hail from Wichita, Kan.According to Wooton’s complaint, the city “failed to take steps to either make the area safe or warn the plaintiffs and others of the dangerous conditions” at the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine. Such factors, Wooton said, “caused the transport car to crash into the access door, causing the plaintiffs to suffer the injuries and damages herein described.”Shrewsbury has reportedly suffered from injuries to his head, hand and back, along with “great emotional distress and mental anguish, physical pain and suffering, annoyance and inconvenience,” the suit alleges. The three Goldens are also said to have endured various bodily injuries.That case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Robert Burnside.

Note: The first case described in the article above, regarding the car accident, presents a common problem in car accident cases: damages. In the above case, the injury victim’s injuries are described as “various injuries, including strains and sprains . . . [and] severe headaches, neck pain, mid-back pain and dizziness . . . .” Injuries such as these are extremely difficult to prove and to quantify into concrete compensatory damages. Thus, although the injury victim actually does suffer from his injuries, to a certain extent there is room for the insurance companies to argue that there really is no damage there, that there is no way to actually prove that the person is suffering the pain, headaches, etc. The end result is that although liability is not an issue – the other driver was cited for careless driving – the injury victim may not recover very much for his injuries. However, there is always room for persuasive lawyering….” – John H. Bryan, West Virginia car accident attorney.


john h bryan.jpg

Welcome to the West Virginia Car Accident Law Blog. My name is John H. Bryan and I am a West Virginia car accident attorney, representing people who have been injured in car accidents in West Virginia. Despite West Virginia’s great natural beauty, our “country roads” don’t always take us home. Along with a rural landscape and windy mountain roads comes great responsibility on behalf of West Virginia drivers. All too often, this responsibility is ignored and innocent people get hurt and killed. The purpose of this blog is to inform people who have been injured in, or are in some way involved in a car accident. I also intend to point out problems that exist within our insurance companies and legal system that constantly act to deprive innocent people of compensation that is owed to them. Through this blog, my goal is to educate people so that they may better protect themselves. – John H. Bryan, West Virginia Car Accident Attorney.